Discipline and doing the work

There is no silver bullet for online studying or working from home

Recently, I was out at dinner with a group of old school friends. One of my friends enrolled last year in an online TAFE course, but found that she’s not actually been doing the work. Knowing that I recently completed my Graduate Diploma in Professional Writing and Publishing through online study, she asked me, “Ange, you’ve studied online, how do you make it work as a mum?”

Do you really want to do it?

I know she was looking for some secret, but really there isn’t one. Like most things in life, it comes down to do you want to do this, and if you do, you’ll make it happen. Through our conversation, it quickly became apparent that my friend didn’t have the motivation to do the course. Her previous employer had paid for her to do the course to boost her skills for a role she had been promoted to, but that organisation had lost its government funding, so she’d taken a new role no longer in that field and the new skill set was not something that she saw herself pursuing a career in down the track.

How I put discipline into online study and working from home

So, after our little discussion where my friend agreed that she needed to think about whether or not the course was actually a priority for her, we turned our discussion to how I had fit online study into my life, in case she came to the decision to commit to her course.

Through the course of my degree I found out I was pregnant, moved house, severely sprained my ankle at 5 months pregnant, had gestational diabetes, obviously had the baby (and took 3 months off from study), my eldest daughter started school and I started a new job. I did stints of doing a full time study load and a part time study load. The most challenging time was my final study period where I was doing a full time load in order to finish the degree (as my final two subjects were only being offered once during the year and I knew that if I took 9 months off between those two subjects I would never finish the last one), my sensitive big miss had just started school and I had a new part-time job.

As you can see, there were the usual ups and downs of life to contend with. But I ALWAYS made time for my study commitments and never once asked for an extension to complete an assignment. Sometimes this meant I was up late at night and early in the morning, sometimes it meant I was listening to lectures with a baby strapped to my chest, and sometimes it meant I was begging my husband to please get the children out of the house. What made studying online easier for me was having a laptop that I could take to the library if required, a dedicated studying space where I could shut the door on the children (this was a small desk set up in the corner of our bedroom as my home office does not have a door), and most importantly of all, a strong belief that I could do this and that it was important to me to finish my course and do the best that I could.

All of this has stood me in good stead for now working from home in a freelance capacity. I know that there are no magic silver bullets. If you want to be successful, you simply need to DO THE WORK. I know that deadlines are there to be met, not constantly pushed out when life gets in the way. And I know that sometimes you just need to ignore whatever else is going on around the house and just get on with your work. The laundry will still be there tomorrow once the deadline has been met and no child ever died from having a toasted cheese sandwich or scrambled eggs for dinner (well, maybe if they have an allergy, but I’m sure you get my point!).

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